Many papillons (butterflies)

by | December 9, 2015

Twenty NTUC U Live ambassadors showed off their colourful transformations and fancy headgears, with the oldest being 81.

BY: Eleanor Yap

NTUC's Melvin Yong with the oldest model, Ivy Tan.

Ivy Tan walked in with a navy blue long-sleeve gown, a gold sash, one silver earring, and an eye-catching red wig with a ponytail behind. On top of her head was a glittery headgear in various shades of pink, red and purple. At age 81, she is the oldest of 20 NTUC ULive ambassadors participating as “models” in the second year of Makeover Magic.

This is an annual charity fashion show organised by NTUC and well-known hair stylist Shunji Matsuo, and proceeds go to U Care Fund to help low-income and needy families. Also sharing the stage were six dancers, mostly from U Live Dance Interest Group who were between the ages of 55 to 65.

Makeover Magic aims to raise awareness among all ages of the physical, intellectual, emotional and social aspects of ageing. It also hopes to foster a positive community to embrace all aspects of ageing and motivate all to lead happy and vibrant lives. Shunji, who started the movement in Japan and decided to bring it to Singapore, found that older people often dressed in dull colours and he thought that by adding colours, it could bring vibrancy and positivity into their lives.

Well-known hair stylist Shunji Matsuo making up a participant.

Added Heng Kae In, the event’s Master of Ceremony, “Ageing can be beautiful … and live life to the fullest.” She shared that as one ages, people tend to face a lot of changes in their lives including death of their loved ones and an empty nest. Makeover Magic “celebrates the beauty of ageing”, she added. At last year’s event, the average age of the participants was 62. This year, the average age has increased to 68 with the youngest being 55, shared Melvin Yong, director, NTUC and Member of Parliament. Participants were not only retired, but also working part-time as well as full-time.


Breaking down stereotypes

And some participants even had loved ones joining them on the stage, including Ivy and her sister-in-law, Irene Hoe, 71. Last year, Ivy was a guest at the first Makeover Magic and she found it interesting and wanted to be a part of it. “She is very timid especially amongst strangers and wanted me to accompany her. Since I am an extrovert, I didn’t mind and I wanted to have fun and make new friends,” said Irene, who is a grandmother of three.

Added Ivy, who is single, on why she wanted to be a part of the event: “I wanted to look beautiful and young, and get to know more people.”

Models and dancers posing for a photo.

The event was serious business. Starting in October, the chosen models had to take five lessons, three hours each time, where they picked up tips on good posture, posing and connecting to the audience, some dance moves, and walking the catwalk. Laughed one of the participants, Haslina Abdullah, 61, “I was shy and this is my first time doing a catwalk.”

The mother of two added: “I did it for fun. I live my life – have a life and live it. I gained some confidence especially in performing on stage which I have never done before.”

Another participant, 65-year-old Rosanne Chan, had a little more experience as she has done stage performances when she was younger and has also been involved in the National Day Parade for many years. However, the catwalk was something new for her. The grandmother of two said that thanks to the lessons, she learned how to walk and pose with confidence. “However, I might not have confidence when I get on the stage!”

She added: “I have made new friends and also got to try out a new way of dressing and hairstyle, and I like it!”

Grace Tan and her sister, Constance.

Grace Tan, 61, another participant, joined with her sister, Constance, 62. “We applied together thinking it was just a makeover class, not knowing what we were getting ourselves into! We just took it in our stride and just did it. Being together in the show was fun as we got to see each other’s transformations.”

The mother of two added: “Even though we were together, we functioned independently but we gave each other support and encouragement.” Grace shared that the encouragement and support also extended amongst the participants, and they all also shared tips on how continue to age timelessly and beautifully.

Constance added: “I refuse to think old because there is so much living to do … my family, friends and foes are my inspiration. The unknown future gives me the motivation and child-like curiosity to reach out and embrace life till the end.”

At the end of the show, Shunji commented that aren’t the participants happy. Indeed they all were, and it took colour to bring out their smiles.



  1. Constance Tan

    Dear Eleanor
    Thank you for the coverage on the Papillions. Your article immortalize the wonderful experience of
    20 seniors which was truly unforgetable. More than that you have shared with us the vision of Shunji Matsuo to embrace life and reach for the stars!

    • agelessadmin

      Thanks, Constance!


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